This morning, a Great Spangled Fritillary visited our garden. Probably a female, according to The Butterflies of Canada, which says males are bright orange, females subtler. (I’m open to correction.)
Although I kept a respectful distance, at least ten feet, each time I shifted to a better angle she disappeared. Then finally she permitted a single photo. I call her Greta Garbo.
Yesterday a Monarch visited. Only one, but given their perilous state, one is 100% better than none. I watched it feed for almost an hour on Brazilian verbena, verbena bonariensis.
A tip: Though it rarely appears on how-to-attract-butterflies plant lists, these tall, dignified plants with tiny purple flowers draw many more visitors than any other plant in our garden. Brazilian verbena self-seeds lavishly, but doesn’t crowd its neighbours.
Perhaps the monarch will return. And Greta Garbo.
For more on how gardens illuminate our ambiguous place in nature, science and power, see Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science. Available September 4, 2014, from Between the Lines.